Today is International Women’s Day. We need to pause a moment and think. We can’t change the past, but we can improve on it. I think it’s fair to say that historically—before the Enlightenment anyway—domestic arrangements were the product of evolution rather than intention. Like religion, however, domestic arrangements have a difficult time keeping up with change in real time. By the time healthcare improved and women’s chances of surviving childbearing grew, men had become set in their ways. Even now we still have trouble getting a female on a presidential ballot in “the most advanced” country in the world. The week before International Women’s Day Elizabeth Warren stepped out of the race. The rational world is so desperate to get the anomaly out of the White House that it hasn’t really dawned what a lost opportunity this was.
Although for most of history their roles have been hidden, half the advances of the human race belong fairly to women. Males often have difficulty admitting that they require help, or had any assistance getting to where they are. In fact, though, we know they had mothers and those mothers helped make them who they were. Many of them had spouses who kept the situation stable enough that they could go on and follow their preoccupations. History, unfortunately, would record only the names of the men. In the western world this was often reflected in the changing of names during marriage. Domesticity comes with a price, but it can be balanced out.
Capitalism, it seems to me, rewards the greedy. Instead of evening things out so that those who don’t have the same opportunities can be cared for, our economic system rewards selfishness. I often wonder if women would’ve been so suppressed had a more humane measure of human worth been adopted. When I think of billionaires whose names I’ve never heard of before, I always mentally add, “they wouldn’t be billionaires if the rest of us refused to play the game.” It’s only because we agree to an arbitrary and artificial valuing system that we allow the obscure to “own” far more than the rest of us. Women, it seems to me, would know the realities of this way better than most men do. What if the value system we shared measured worth in having had a mother? It’s something we all share. Yet in this nation we still haven’t passed the Equal Rights Amendment. The time has come to ask ourselves what’s really important. Today should be the answer.
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